The key talking points as England host Wales in Guinness Six Nations clash

By Sports Desk February 09, 2024

Fierce rivals England and Wales continue their Guinness Six Nations campaigns with an eagerly-awaited clash at Twickenham.

England kicked off with a narrow victory over Italy in Rome, while Wales almost pulled off the biggest comeback in Six Nations history, scoring 26 unanswered points before going down 27-26 to Scotland.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points heading into Saturday’s encounter.

England’s magnificent seven

England have a strong record against Wales at Twickenham since losing to them in 2012. Centre Scott Williams’ late try clinched a Six Nations Triple Crown that day, but Wales have come unstuck on five subsequent Six Nations visits. The shining light from a Welsh perspective was their 2015 World Cup pool victory over England, but it is seven defeats on the bounce at English rugby headquarters following that 28-25 success, with England winning four Six Nations Tests, two World Cup warm-up games and a summer international. Wales can take heart from five of those reversals being by six points or fewer, but they face a tough ask to turn things around.

Half-century for George North

Wales are boosted by the return after injury of centre George North for their trip to south-west London. North, who wins his 119th cap, is the solitary player in Saturday’s match-day 23 to have been part of a winning Wales team at Twickenham, while he also clocks up 50 Six Nations games. Only four other players have reached a half-century in the competition for Wales – Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams. North, who made his Six Nations bow against France in Paris 13 years ago, remains an integral part of head coach Warren Gatland’s plans.

Pump up the Twickenham volume

England return to headquarters for the first time since they were booed during a shock World Cup warm-up defeat against Fiji. Steve Borthwick’s team went on to finish third in the World Cup, and they host Wales on the back of an opening Six Nations victory over Italy. The Twickenham atmosphere in recent times has undoubtedly been flat, and changes introduced to the match-day experience include an increase in length of the players’ walk through the crowds from their bus to the changing room.

Ioan Lloyd in the spotlight

Former Bristol back Lloyd makes his first Wales start on Saturday, and it will be in the number 10 shirt after taking over from the injured Sam Costelow. The 22-year-old featured twice as a substitute during Wales’ 2020 autumn campaign, but it was more than three years until he reappeared on the international stage, replacing Costelow against Scotland last weekend and helping to orchestrate a spectacular second-half fightback. Lloyd is among several players in Wales’ match-day 23 never to have played Test rugby at Twickenham, but the visitors need him to thrive.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso to make a mark?

The Exeter wing pledged allegiance to England and made his debut off the bench against Italy, despite being born and raised in Cardiff. It prompted Wales boss Warren Gatland to remark last month that his decision had not gone down well across the border, although Gatland also insisted that preparations for England had not involved the 21-year-old being mentioned, stating: “It doesn’t add any extra spice. Good luck to him. I hope things go well for him.”

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